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A slick New York entertainment publicist goes to a pay phone to call his mistress but before he can put his change in the slot, the phone rings. He answers and the voice on the other end tell him if he'll be shot if he hangs up the phone. To make sure he knows this if for real, a red-dot from a gun laser shines right on his chest.
- Commentary by Joel Schumacher
- Theatrical Trailer
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DON'T allow the first three or four minute "intro" mislead you into thinking it's some urban, gang related story. Far from it.
This movie is full of suspense and Colin Farrell deserves much credit. Same for Kiefer Sutherland's voice! (That WAS his voice, wasn't it?!) I love the acting and intelligence of the lead officer played by Forest Whitaker; he's another actor who made this movie so good. I won't elaborate much more so there are not spoilers in this review, but there are a couple unanswered questions (just think of the upper part of the phone booth and how nobody noticed that!)
It's a clever movie that, for me, was about 10-15 minutes too short. I was sorry to see it end after only 81 minutes.
Give it a watch! I bet you'll enjoy it and the slight twist at the end!
And really, it's a tragedy that Hitchcock DIDN'T get to make this movie, because he would have wrung a brilliantly-shot, suspenseful story out of the simple concept. Instead, the people of 2002 got "Phone Booth," a frenetic screaming mess directed by Joel Schumacher -- although Colin Farrell and Kiefer Sutherland give glorious performances.
Stu Shepard (Farrell) is a sleek, slick PR executive with a silver tongue. Despite being married to the beautiful Kelly (Radha Mitchell), he secretly uses the last phone booth in New York City to arrange meetings with a young starlet (Katie Holmes) whom he hopes to seduce.
But after his call, the phone rings -- and a mysterious caller (Sutherland) reveals that he knows all about Stu's ugly little secrets. What's more, he has a sniper rifle, and has already killed a pedophile pornographer and a company insider for refusing to play his game. Now he's demanding that Stu call his wife and confess the plans he had made.
But after Stu has an altercation with the world's most annoying prostitutes, the caller kills their pimp. Suddenly the phone booth is surrounded by the NYPD, who believe that Stu is the shooter. He can't hang up and cannot warn the police what is happening, even as the caller is threatening innocent people around him -- including his wife.
"Phone Booth" is a movie with a simple concept -- a man trapped in a phone booth, forced to admit all his sins and flaws by a devious murderer. The entire story revolves around what happens in the phone booth, and the entirety of New York City seems to shrink down around that little glass-and-metal box. Nothing much happens outside it.
Unfortunately, this is directed by Joel Schumacher, who does not know how to direct suspense. Instead of building up a sense of claustrophobic terror and helplessness, he pelts us with screeching prostitutes, near-hysterical cops and a lot of idiots just standing by doing nothing. It's as if he thinks the frantic, frenetic tone will scare us -- and it doesn't.
In fact, the scariest parts of the movie are also the quietest -- the moments where it's just the caller taunting Stu, and Stu desperately trying to find a way out of this mess without anyone dying.
But the main two actors are simply superb. Despite a rather dodgy accent, Farrell's performance is a brilliant slow-motion picture of a man's polished, fast-talking exterior crumbling and peeling away, until he's forced to confront every ugly facet of himself. And Sutherland -- who is barely ever more than a voice -- is a gloriously ominous presence, with a deep rich voice that laughs and snarls through all of Stu's pain. The moment when he pretends to be wracked with childhood angst is both funny and terrifying.
Forest Whitaker also has a nice smaller role as a police chief who manages to work out that something weird is going on with Stu. Radha Mitchell and Katie Holmes are pretty much wasted, though.
"Phone Booth" is a directorial disaster, but it is saved somewhat by a truly amazing pair of central performances -- and one of them barely even appears onscreen. Worthy of a look, but only for Farrell and Sutherland.